Monday, 19 August 2019

paneuropäisches picknick

Held on this day in 1989 the peace protest known as the Pan-European Picnic in the border town of Šopron (formerly Ödenburg), Hungary on the Austria border sponsored in part by the former Archduke of both nations is considered by many to be the final death-rattle of Communism, presaging what was to follow in Central Europe, signalling the end of accommodation for protracted situations like Romanian refugee camps in Hungary or the East German encampment at the Prague embassy. Borders were eliminated for a space of three hours during the exchange and many took advantage of this window, with border guards given orders not to interfere. Presently, few signs remain of the walls that separated east from west.

yellowhammer or backwards-planning

Though the existence of no-deal contingency plans have been suspected since April and cabinet officials are trying to downplay their significance—excusing them as an outdated draft, the recent leak (that they’d characterise as sabotage) of reports contain rather dire predictions that are really revealing and revolutionary should a fraction of them come to pass as forecasted in the event of such a departure for the UK from the European Union.
The report identifies bottle-necks and supply-chain disruption to food and medical supplies and a meltdown of logistics. Military forces (a complimentary programme called Operation Redfold to be operated out of the prosaically named Pindar citadel and bunker, so named after the poet‘s house was the only structure spared destruction after Alexander the Great had the city of Thebes razed, owing to his verses that sang the virtues of king’s dynasty) are on standby to assist civilian authorities in quelling anticipated protests and uprisings.  Potential (leaning towards inevitable) fuel scarcity is particularly pernicious for the cascading effects it will have on the overall economy.  

Sunday, 18 August 2019


I can vaguely recall learning about the birth of Virginia Dare, born on this day in the ill-fated Roanoke Colony of the Carolinas, in history class—but fortunately was spared the cult-like symbolism attached to the first English settler born on the North America continent in the weirdly off-putting mythology that the USA defends as foundational—and permissive of its civilising settler self-portrayal. In the ensuing four hundred years, the birth and speculative fate of this toddler has been evoked—especially virulently from the 1920s onward, by groups arguing against universal suffrage, proponents for segregation and strict limitations on immigration and white nationalism.
Coincidentally (perhaps a device of the same myth-building), Dare’s grandfather who set off to England on a supply-run in winter of that same year was delayed until 1590 due to the Anglo-Spanish War and discovered an abandoned but undamaged settlement, returning on Dare’s third birthday. There was no sign of struggle with only the title inscription appearing on the column of the colony’s fort with “Cro” carved in a nearby tree. Nor did I realise that the desire to reframe and resolve the mystery in a favourable, flattering way was so strong that an elaborate hoax was conducted in the late 1930s with forged artefacts—so called Dare Stones—recovered that supposedly continued the saga, savages responsible for most of the colonists’ deaths and through a convoluted tale (the English likely assimilated with the indigenous population), requited vengeance. Researchers from the Smithsonian initially believed that the stones were authentic records. Though later recanted and shown to be fakes (see also here and here), some wearingly still cling to the original finding.

visual circuity

The ever interesting BLDGBlog introduces us to the concept from Mark Changizi that supposes a sort of visual vernacular of optical illusions that could be presented and preserved as architectural elements or useful grebbling ornaments to cue viewers to perform a computation—a reminder, encoded instructions or a formula that easier to convey and intuit by sight rather than through words.
Façades, as light and shadow pass over them throughout the day, become engaging and transformative as logical operators—though I suppose could be programmed for propaganda as well. The notion that mathematics can be reified and intuitive recalls both the cymatic diagrams of Friedrich Chladni and the visual proofs of the Pythagorean theorem or quadratic equation.

immense energy

Via the always engaging Boing Boing, we are updated on the property scouting of Kate Wagner who brings her signature McMansion take-down (previously) to the gated-communities of Campbell County, Wyoming edition.  These horrendous, rambling homes on the range are ripe for criticism and full of special architectural features and elements like divorce-lawyer foyer. Visit and subscribe for regular real estate round-ups from all fifty states (not that America has the exclusive monopoly) of the union.

ordinal numbers or naming-convention

Previously we have explored the diplomacy of protest in reflagging the names of streets (odonyms, a thoroughfare’s given name) that foreign embassies and consulates reside on, so correspondents might have to acknowledge their hypocrisies in addressing their directive or that officials might have to contemplate some unflattering signage on their way to and from the compound.
As good and provocative as some of those examples above are, they would have a hard time rivalling the current proposal to rename the portion of Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan that hosts the multi-use, doubly-mortgaged skyscraper that Trump used undocumented immigrants to construct (then refused to pay them) after Barack H Obama. Enough compelling signatures might mandate the change.

holy mackerel

Though I am sure our friend Lew Zealand would gladly help spawning fish to navigate man-made obstacles that block their migratory routes, we also appreciated this artificial-intelligence aided system that creates a portal to help fish mount dams blocking rivers by gently launching them through a pneumatic tube up and over the top. Dams harvest hydropower—a sustainable and reliable energy source, but such interventions often clash with the environment and creatures that share these waters, but systems like the ones being developed, in tandem with fish-ladders and existing ways to shuttle, can help lessen the impact. Read more about the Whooshh Passage Portal at Dezeen at the link above.